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Automobile Collisions / Workers' Compensation

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Investigators question truck's speed in child's death

How fast a pickup truck was going at the time it struck a child crossing a Wisconsin Rapids street is under investigation. The 8-year-old old boy died from injuries he received last fall in a motor vehicle accident on West Grand Avenue at 14th Avenue.

The child was accompanied by his 12-year-old brother. The boys' intended destination was Chips, in the 1500 block of West Grand Avenue, not far from the fatal car accident.

Police investigators say the brothers managed to move halfway across the eastbound side of the street, causing a pickup truck in oncoming traffic to stop. The younger boy moved slightly ahead of his brother, past the stopped vehicle, and was struck by a second pickup. The 12-year-old told authorities he never saw or heard the pickup coming.

Toxicology tests revealed the 34-year-old Appleton truck driver involved in the accident was not impaired. Only caffeine and nicotine were detected. An extensive analysis of the pedestrian fatality, conducted by a reconstruction team at Wisconsin State Patrol, included the examination of the pickup's black box.

Investigators found that the recording instrument, which should have recorded the truck's speed, was not helpful. Accident reconstruction experts used an estimate to gauge how fast the truck was going around 4:00 p.m. when it hit the child, but results conflict with speeds supplied by witnesses.

State patrol believes the truck was traveling between 36 and 45 mph. Drivers, who saw the accident and measured the truck's pace based on the speeds of their own vehicles, said the pickup was moving at about 25 mph. The avenue's posted limit is 30 mph.

The driver of the pickup, who stopped as the boys crossed the road, left the accident scene after reporting what happened to 911. The driver contacted authorities later that day to tell them what he observed. The driver explained that he drove away from the accident because his 11-year-old son, who had accompanied him that afternoon, was badly shaken by the tragedy.

Source: wisconsinrapidstribune.com, "Trucks speed unclear in fatal crash," Nathaniel Thuda, Mar. 2, 2012

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